A Trip To Italy’s Fashion Capital

To say how crazy it is that I have been here in Florence for a month already is a complete understatement. The weeks seem to go by so fast, and the weekends speed by even faster. Having Fridays off is great and it allows for more time to travel, whether it be inside Italy or to another country. I have been trying to keep a list of all of the amazing restaurants, stores, gelaterias, etc. that are my favorite, but I just can’t find enough time to  jot everything down!

Day at the Duomo di Milano

Day at the Duomo di Milano

This past weekend (from Sunday to Tuesday) all 70 of us FIT students made our way to the fashion capital of Italy. We arrived early Sunday morning and from there we began our adventure. Our trip started out with us dropping off our luggage to our hotel and then making our way to the “Super Collections” trade show that was occurring. Once we were there we walked around and looked at all of the amazing merchandise that was being shown. It was great to see merchandise at an international trade show, as most of the merchandise, let alone brands, were all very unfamiliar to me. I was personally able to see a multitude of brands and companies that are not shown at trade shows in the U.S. During the trade show, we were all able to complete our findings for two of our fashion merchandising classes which was very helpful.

Top Of The Duomo

Top Of The Duomo (Samantha Seltzer, Teresa Kelly, Kayleigh Folster, Caitlyn Hansen, Hannah Charles and Kathleen Arias)

After we left the trade show we took the metro to the Duomo and from there we began to see the real city of Milan. Milan fashion week was occurring while we were still there and Milan is of course, known for its one of a kind fashion. Stores on every corner and people bustling throughout the city streets. We were fortunate enough to take a guided tour of the Duomo di Milano which led us up the stairs of the Duomo itself and out on the main rooftop. While sitting there, it was an unbelievable feeling, to actually sit and think of where I was sitting in that very moment.

Monday rolled around quite soon, and our day was full of fashion visits and a trip to Como to see the silk factories and textile factories.  Our FMM group was split into two and I visited the Mantero Factory. It was amazing to get to see how brands such as, Gucci, Vivienne Westwood and Valentino print their silk scarfs. There were silk screen printing and  digital printing. It was interesting to see which form companies print their merchandise on. Higher end brands normally print through silk screen printing since it takes longer and to uses more materials and lower end companies use digital printing. Having observed both, they seemed both very efficient and both of good quality. After visiting the factory we were able to see the archives of the Mantero company and view their oldest fabrics and books used. Once that was over we were able to enjoy the rest of Como and take in all of its beauty. Como is a very pretty city and very quiet (now I know why George Clooney chose to have a house there). The lake is beautiful and relaxing and after lunch my friends and I ate a gelato as we walked around the lake.

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Gucci Print at Mantero Factory

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Archived Fabrics From Mantero

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1938 Chanel Advertisement

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Lake Como

After a full two days on Sunday and Monday, Tuesday was just as busy. Fortunately, we were able to wake up later and get in as much sleep as we could (I mean, what college student doesn’t love their sleep?) Anyway, Tuesday morning we were off to have private store visits of both the Excelsior and LaRinascente department stores. Both of which are two very different stores targeted to two very different demographics of customers. The Excelsior store is on the more higher and exclusive end of the spectrum and LaRinascente is targeted toward the higher end everyday shopper, almost like a Bergdoff Goodman’s or higher end Bloomingdales. After our tour we were headed over to the Chagall Exhibit that was going on. We had a guided tour as well, and it was very informative and interesting to hear about Marc Chagall’s inspiration and life as an artist. After looking through the exhibit it was time to hangout and tour Milan on our own. From there we shopped, ate lunch and took in as much as we could.

Pizza From Milan

Pizza From Milan

After a long three, exciting, yet tiresome days of fashion and travel, it was time to head back to Florence. We took a 7:30 train and we were back to Florence around 9:30. It was a great trip and an overall wonderful experience. I loved seeing all the sites and gaining the first hand knowledge from the factories and tours. After this trip, I can’t wait to see all of the other wonders that are out there. Arrivederci!

What’s Gucci, yo?

Hey guys!

My name is Zach, and I’m studying International Fashion Merchandising/Marketing in Florence for my 3rd year at FIT. I’m pleased to say that I’ll be blogging for the FIT in Florence blog now!

Today, us Merchandising/Marketing students took a trip to the GUCCI Headquarters, located in Scandicci, just outside of Florence. In this particular building, there are 1,200 employees. Despite the pouring rain, we were all wide-eyed and excited to see the secrets held inside of this huge designer facility. Upon arrival, we received guest passes with our names on them to be worn around our necks.

We were greeted warmly by a girl who was not much older than us students. She studies part time in Milan and works full time as an assistant to the Production Manager for Gucci in Scandicci. She gave us a tour of each department of the facility. Here, they develop products and create all of the prototypes which are then sent out to 60 different factories who produce and assemble the goods. We were shown an archive of every textile used for their accessories. Every kind of leather (crocodile, python, Louisiana alligator, ostrich) with every type of finish imaginable. I personally loved the black “rubberized” leathers. The things I’d do for a motorcycle jacket of this material! We saw furs of all forms and colors, synthetic materials, sheet-thin deer-skin, and more. The artisans showed us how they cut the leathers, using only the most flawless parts of the leather and using the less-nice parts for finishing touches and small goods. They source from the best tanneries located in Florence. Everything is hand cut using a very tiny, special cutting knife that’s sharpened before every use. Going through the workshop, we saw tons of skilled workers, each working on a different Gucci product, mainly handbags. There is only one man who makes the customized travelling trunks. They take about a month to make each, and sell for an unimaginable amount. You can take your pick from buying a new house, or a hand-made Gucci trunk. Some recent clients mentioned were Rihanna and John Travolta (who apparently uses his two trunks as coffee tables). They can be made with any textile of your choice, and are finished with luxurious hardware, usually gold. Lastly, we were taken to “the bamboo room.” This is where they finish, heat and reform stalks of bamboo for their famous “bamboo bag”. The bamboo is imported from China, and only the roots are used because they are strong and not hollow like the plant itself.

Walking through the halls of Gucci’s headquarters is an overwhelming feeling. We all know gucci, and the quality that is associated with it. Some of us know the crazy story of the Gucci family (Guccio’s vision, the rebellion of his grandchildren, Maurizio’s assassination). Gucci represents a powerhouse of a family, their struggles, and their triumphs. Along the walls are black and white photographs from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, showing family members, celebrities, and handsome people wearing Gucci. The lights inside were bright and everything sparkling clean. I hope to someday work at a place like this.

The next time you see a Gucci bag, consider the amount of time and effort that goes into making it. Know that it passes through this facility in Scandicci, and is, in every aspect, a luxury item!

Dear Florence,

Dear Florence,

I will miss you. I will miss your mysterious streets that are full of adventure around every turn. I will miss the many historical buildings that seem to radiate with inspiration. I will especially miss all your many different flavors of gelato, and your mastery of hot chocolate. I will miss the fresh pasta, the real pizza and all the many different stores. You offered me an experience of a life time with people who were incredible to be around. Thank you for opening your heart and opening mine

Love you forever

 

Dear FIT in Florence,

I don’t think there is a better place on earth where I could have started my first year of College or my first step towards a fashion career.  You have offered me so many opportunities. I have traveled to Paris and Milan -two major fashion capitols- and I’m sure that was only possible with your help. I have been inside some of the world’s greatest trade shows such as the White Trade Show in Milan.  And I couldn’t have gotten to know 8 other talented girls and been able to make life long friends with each and everyone of them through a love of fashion without your help. It was because of you, all the teachers, staff, director, and those attending that made this year abroad… one of a kind.

Thank you a million times (Grazie Mille)

 

Dear First Year Girls,

YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!! Look at how much we have grown! Being daring enough to step out of the comfort zone of life and take a swing at enhancing every aspect of our lives! We have grown so much just in the past year and I can honestly say each one of us has something incredible to offer the world of fashion now that our Professors in Italy showed us what we could do and proved our capacities. Good luck to each one of you!

See you in New York!

 

Dear Readers,

Was Italy worth all the pain and trouble of long paper work trying to get a visa, or permit of stay. Was it worth the jet lag and culture shock… was it worth the sacrifice? Actually what sacrifice? This year I can honestly say was one of the best times and hardest times of my life. It pushed me academically to new heights, physically to new strength, and mentally to a new level of maturity. The Fashion I have learned about here and been able to explore is unmeasurable. This was the best decision hands down for school! If you are trying to decide whether to come here or stay in new york, ask yourself this: Which will take my inspiration and designs to the next level? For me, it was Italy.

Arrivederci and thanks for reading!

Just Another Local

I never get bored siting in class when I’m learning about fashion, but often the rush of school, projects and homework cause me to forget where I am. Often I find myself mindlessly walking home staring at my feet trying to remember what I need to do when I get home. But suddenly I look up for a second and can’t help but gasp as I look out along the Arno river and see the lights of the city dancing on the water, and then I remember… I am attending F.I.T. in Florence.

Earlier this week, coming from a long day at school, I chanced to stumble upon a small little liberia e cafe (bookstore and cafe) by the name of Meykadeh. When I first walked in I saw a fantastic assortment of drinks glued to the wall with light radiating from them. At the time I only had 3 euro in my pocket and was craving some Italian Chocolate. Usually I am dubious about trying new places but I sat down at the bar and ordered cioccolate calda con panna (hot chocolate with whipped cream). The barista and co-owner, whose name I discovered to be Jan, asked me if I would like Mint, Orange, Dark, or Milk. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time decided over hot chocolate, but I went with the milk chocolate just to be safe. We talked as she concocted my drink like a careful scientist. I discovered that we had a mutual appreciation for Rugby and the fact that she is from New Zealand, we also had a similar satisfaction in the results of the Rugby World Cup. It was nice hearing about how she came to Italy and about her new age love story that resulted in the little cafe, Meykadeh. When she passed me the large cup filled past the rim with whipped cream, dusted with chocolate and accented with a biscotti, I couldn’t help but feel like a local. I wrapped my hands around the cup watched the steam and thought to myself, “Next time, Orange.”